Archive for the 'economics' Category

Yet another wignut pundit claims Bush is a “socialist”

Yet another right-wing pundit last week claimed that Bush’ fascistic move to preserve the power and wealth of capitalists was actually “socialist.”

I can see that some people are having a difficult time understanding this, so let’s spell this out as clearly as I can:

Since we socialists can’t seem to agree on even the colour of shit, there are about as many different interpretations of socialism as there are socialists.  But the one thing that we have in common (along with some anarchists such as Noam Chomsky) is that we believe that the state can (and should) be used for a time to curtail the power of capitalists, to remove them from their position of ridiculous power and to redress the gross imbalance in wealth that they have accumulated for themselves while 18 million people (3 times 9/11) die globally every year due to poverty.

Fascists on the other hand believe in using the power of the state to preserve and enhance the power of capitalists (see, for instance, the collusion between Nazi Germany and the infamous Krupp family or Mussolini’s Corporatist régime) at the expense of workers.

I know, I know, it’s hard.  They both deal with the state AND capitalists!  It’s so confusing.  But here’s an easy mnemonic device to help remember the difference between the two for next time.

Saying that Bush’s fascist move this week is actually the same thing as “socialism” just because it involves the state and capitalists is a bit like saying that cancer-causing cigarettes are the same thing as chemotherapy because they both involve cancer and its spread.

~

See Also:

More proof that liberal economics is a radical right-wing ideology

A *Really* Inconvenient Truth: ‘Green capitalism’ is an oxymoron

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oxymoron-eco-capitalism-2.pngI recently came across an interview with Joel Kovel, the man behind A Really Inconvenient Truth and Enemy of Nature.

Joel Kovel is an eco-socialist who critiques Al Gore’s An Inconvenient Truth not from an environmental skeptic position, but rather on the contrary, he critiques it from the left.

The interview is well worth the listen to if you get the chance. However, I do suggest that if you’re going to listen to it, do it soon because I’m not sure how long the radio program will be hosting the file.

You can access it here:

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or you can access it here.

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New poll of Canadian corporate elites shows interesting results

In the year 2000, Canada taxed corporations at a rate of 44.6%.  Despite Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney, we had been able to maintain this relatively good rate of taxation which we first achieved during the Liberal-NDP minority governments in the 1960s and 1970s.  Since then, however, Canada’s corporate tax rates have dropped precipitously by over a quarter to only 30.9% in 2007

During this time, the only public opinion polls conducted that I am aware of were conducted on Canadian corporate elite opinion alone.    This, quite simply, is because elites understand that the public’s opinion on such ‘frivolous’ matters would be inappropriate to solicit.  The public’s opinion is not of any consequence to the determining of public policy in this area, thus why get their hopes up by asking them?  Why remind them that their opinion will simply be disregarded shortly after it is documented?

Nevertheless, it is still worth taking a look at what Canada’s corporate elites would like to see reformed in Canada’s government spending and taxation policy because, on these issues, their opinion is more equal than others and thus is far more likely to be an indicator of what changes will come.

The most recent example of such a poll of corporate elites was conducted recently by Conrad Winn, the president of Compass Polling (and possibly the most infuriating man I’ve ever had the misfortune of meeting).  Despite Winn’s delusions that the CBC actually has a whole cadre of communists working for them, that universities are only designed to indoctrinate children with Marxist propaganda and that CNN is nothing more than the propaganda arm of the U.S. Democratic Party (believe it or not he’s actually said all of these things), Winn is smart enough to know that it is elite opinion on this issue which matters and thus is worth soliciting.

The results of Winn’s poll are thus, very revealing. 

canadian-corporate-elite.png

The margin of error for this poll is +/- 8.7%, so I have highlighted the most popular response for each question in yellow (questions where two responses are highlighted are statistically tied in first place). 

The first thing that should leap out at Canadians is that this poll destroys the myth that the Canadian bourgeois does not want a large government or an activist state.  Indeed on the contrary, Canada’s bourgeois (much like America’s bourgeois) wants government intervention into the private sector in certain limited regards.  Contrary to what is published in the mainstream media, this is nothing all too surprising.  Ever since the end of the Second World War, economists of all stripes have noted that without heavy government support and intervention in the economy, capitalism would collapse.   In 1944, economist Paul Samuelson predicted the 1948 economic employment crisis when he wrote that “the present prosperity is ‘artificial,” and that many of the central sectors of the economy “cannot possibly maintain their present level of employment, or one-half, or one-third of it.”  Thus, ever since, virtually all industrialized governments (including the Canadian and U.S. governments) have been actively subsidizing corporations through ‘corporate welfare’ and ‘military keynesianism’ in order to sustain the capitalist mode of production.

The poll above illustrates that, contrary to the majority of the populace, the bourgeois is well aware of the importance of the activist role of the state.  Canada’s bourgeoisie wants increases in government subsidies to the private sector for infrastructure funding and military funding (military keynesianism) in addition to increased government activism in paying down the national debt and increasing health care payments (which, after all, relieves employers from having to offer private heath insurance unlike their American counterparts).

But, on the other hand, there is one other final item which is interesting and worthy of consideration in this poll of Canada’s bourgeoisie.  While the poll illustrates that capitalists recognize the value to them of these various forms of corporate welfare, the last two questions (highlighted in red), also conclusively show that they just don’t want to have to be the ones to pay for it.

Don’t you love that we’re teaching the Afghans to be ‘free’ just like us?

“On the contrary, the citizen, always active, sweats, agitates himself,
torments himself incessantly in order to seek still more labourious
occupations; he works to death, he even rushes to it in order to get
in condition to live, or renounces life in order to acquire immortality.
He pays court to the great whom he hates, and to the rich whom he
scorns. He spares nothing in order to obtain the honour of serving
them; he proudly boasts of his baseness and their protection; and
proud of his slavery, he speaks with disdain of those
who do not have the honour of sharing it.”
-Rousseau, Second Discourse

See also:

Propaganda in Action: Ontario’s election “priorities”?

Poll: Do you support the conservatives or oppose helping children? WTF!

Our entire existence summed up in one cartoon

How to distort economic data 101

From the fantastic folks at venezuelaanalysis.com:

“All statistics, including economic statistics, can be manipulated, or only partially revealed, so that they demonstrate a foregone ideological conclusion rather than reality.

[...]

“By 2006 and 2007, it was impossible to hide the evidence that the Venezuelan economy had been growing at a tremendous rate for four years running, and that income was being redistributed to the poorer classes in an unprecedented fashion. Some of the relevant economic numbers appeared in a 2007 report generated by two private consulting firms, AC Nielson and Datos, for VenAmCham (The Venezuelan American Chamber of Commerce and Industry). They showed that the poorest economic class, Level E, had more than doubled its income in three years, but their interpretation was still tinged with an anti-government bias.

“For example, the title over the table of figures provided in the AC Nielsen/Datos report sounded discouraging, “In the last three years, only the income of Level E has grown in real terms.” Since there are 6 household income levels customarily used in Venezuela — A,B,C+, C-, D, and E — this doesn’t sound like much of an achievement. That is, until the reader learns that level E consisted of a solid majority, or 58% of the population in 2003. Level E’s income grew by a whopping 130%, after being corrected for inflation. [emphasis added]” (source)

Of course, distorting economic data is by no means a phenomenon of only the developing world.

The manner in which even agreed upon economic data is presented in the West is highly ideological and, one could charge, intentionally misleading.

First off, the standard practice economists use to measure per capita economic wealth is to use average GDP per capita. It is important to dwell for a second on the fact that this isn’t just something that a lot of economists do by coincidence, this is considered the standard measure with, by extension, all other measures being heterodox or in some other way subaltern.

When you don’t want to give all three measures of mean (average), median and mode in mathematics and statistics, it is widely acknowledged that if you’re going to use only the measure of ‘average’, it is by far the most informative on linear trends such as this:

economic-ideology-1.png

This is hugely important due to the fact that all economic wealth distributions under global capitalism, by definition, do not look like the graph above. Rather, all existing patters of economic wealth distribution under global capitalism are more or less exponential (in fact, this is the very predictable result of capitalism).

Whenever you have exponential data and you intentionally and conscientiously only give the average indicator, you are likely skewing your analysis dramatically.

Here’s an example of a fictional global distribution of wealth which nevertheless more accurately approximates reality. As you can see, if readers were to be given only the average income for this graph, the reader would likely develop a highly skewed view of the economic realities.

economic-ideology-2.png

Note that the orthodox approach of giving only the average measure gives a more than 10 times more favourable view than if one were to give only the median measure.

Now this isn’t to say that economists themselves don’t recognize these limitations. Indeed highly technical economic documents often contain data using medians instead of means. Moreover, in defense of economists, it is often more difficult to calculate the median income than it is to calculate the mean income due to the fact that less data is required to calculate the mean (average) income.

But even if the ‘median’ indicator finds its way into some technical documents, it is almost impossible to find it anywhere in any news report, or think tank research paper — the two sources that are most predominantly fed to the public.

For an especially bad example of utter and sheer ideological and propagandistic distortion of this median/mean practice, see this ABC news report on “Tax Freedom Day”.

Given this, is it really still tenable to continue to ignore the possibility that the very language we use to express economics to the populace is itself so hopelessly entrenched in a capitalist ideology?

Why capitalism can’t continue forever and why socialism will prevail

From Bolivian President Evo Morales’ recent speech to the United Nations (the text of which has never been seen in the mainstream media).

It is important that we learn lessons from some sectors, from some regions. Let me avail myself of this opportunity: I come from a culture based on peace, from a lifestyle based on equality, of living not only in solidarity with all people, but also living in harmony with Mother Earth. For the indigenous movement, land cannot be a commodity; it is a mother that gives us life, so how could we convert it into a commodity as the western model does?

This is a profound lesson which we must learn in order to resolve the problems of humanity that are being discussed here, climate change and pollution. Where does this pollution come from? It comes from, and is generated by, the unsustainable development of a system which destroys the planet: in other words, capitalism.

I want to use this opportunity to call on sectors, groups and nations to abandon luxury, to abandon over-consumption, to think not only about money but about life, to not only think about accumulating capital but to think in wider terms about humanity. Only then can we begin to solve the root causes of these problems facing humanity. “

Hat tip to our good comrade Ian Angus who runs the fantastic ecosocialist blog “Climate and Capitalism“. He published the full text of Morales’ speech.

~

See also:

All that glitters is not golden

An apology is owed…

Support for capitalist parties in Canada

Is socialism violent or is liberalism hypocritical?: Dispelling the myths of socialism – PART I

Is Capitalism Justified?: Dispelling the myths of socialism – PART II

Propaganda in Action: Ontario’s election “priorities”?

A new poll just released by Environics, shows something more revealing than it bargained for. What it shows can be considered even more proof that the media does not have a left-wing bias.

The Environics poll asked Ontarians what they thought the most important factor/issue determing their vote in the upcoming election would be.

The results are interesting.

environics

Now, some of these factors can be broadly categorized into socialist/social democratic issues (namely heath care and social programs/poverty/minimum wage) and conservative/capitalist issues (namely the economy and taxes). Recompiling the list with these ideological concerns grouped together results in this list of what Ontarians care about:

ontario-election-issues-people.PNG

So what do Ontarians care about? Notice that by far, the answer, according to Environics, is overwhelmingly coherently socialist/social democratic issues, followed by two ideologically neutral issues, then followed by coherently conservative or capitalist issues.

But now let’s take a look at what the mainstream media coverage of the Ontario election considers to be the important issues.

We can see that the media has little interest in the issues that Ontarians actually cares about:

ontario-election-issues-media.PNG

I compiled the data for this table using targeted advanced Google news searches and can be verified, if you’re interested, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

We progressives can easily convince ourselves that society is hopelessly biased and political culture hopelessly corrupted by the mainstream media, but I see these results as reason for optimism rather than forlornness.

Voters aren’t clamoring for tax cuts despite the hugely disproportional media coverage of the issue and voters continue to support socialist issues as their #1 election issues. If that, in and of itself, does not give progressives great faith in the prospects for the kind of changes we seek, then I don’t know what will.

~

See also:

The ‘Propaganda in Action’ series (the rest of the series)

The NDP are cowards, what should true progressives do?

What do politics and monkey shit fights have in common?

The propaganda & hypocrisy of 9/11 anniversary media coverage

The Paulitics coverage of the Ontario 2007 election

Proof of Big Brother tactics at SPP protest (pics + vid)

It was easy to miss, but here are three examples of Big Brother tactics at the SPP protests this week in Quebec.  One of which is your standard George W. Bush doublethink, the second of which gives some interesting circumstantial evidence of government conspiracy to crack down on protesters (and has become an internet sensation), and the third of which proves the culpability of the government and police but which hasn’t been reported anywhere that I am aware of.

#1. As many of you know, the leaders of Canada, the U.S. and Mexico (“The Three Amigos”)  met yesterday and the day before to negotiate a backroom, undemocratic deal to harmonize regulations at the behest of North America’s CEOs.

This summit took place, behind closed doors and meetings were carefully arranged to transpire without public scrutinty.  Afterwards, “The Three Amigos” emerged to the only public scrutiny the meetings would receive: namely George W. Bush reassuring the public that nothing offensive to public morals took place while the public was forbidden from listening in.

So, it was a boring, uneventful series of meetings in which nothing which the public would disapprove of took place, but the public was still nevertheless forbidden from seeing these uneventful meetings?

#2. The following video has recently become an internet sensation because of youtube, digg.com and reddit.com.  It shows three very suspicious ‘protestors’ who come to a peaceful protest with stones and rocks in hand seeking to provoke a confrontation.  It shows fairly reasonable circumstantial evidence that they were actually police informants designed to create cause for the police to crack down.  When confronted with the realization that the crowd surrounding them has realized this, they ‘give themselves up’ to the police.

Now, the other part of the story that has been widely reported, is that after these three were handcuffed, a picture was shot which showed that two of the ‘protesters’ had the same boots as a police officer.

spp-protest-boots-1.png

Here’s where it gets interesting.

The Toronto Star linked to the youtube video, but their report still suggested that it could have been a coincidence.  They wrote that:

“Late Tuesday, photographs taken by another protester surfaced, showing the trio lying prone on the ground. The photos show the soles of their boots adorned by yellow triangles. A police officer kneeling beside the men has an identical yellow triangle on the sole of his boot.”

Clearly, it takes no time at all to see that the protestors have the same boots as ONE of the police officers.  That hardly qualifies for investigative journalism.  And in and of itself without further investigation, this can still be dismissed as a coincidence by the government or by skeptics.

#3. But the part of the story that hasn’t been reported is also the part of the story which proves that all this circumstantial evidence above is not merely a series of coincidence.  The picture below shows that it’s not a matter of these protestors coincidentally having the same style of boots as one of the police officers, but rather that they have the exact same boots as all of the police officers.

spp-protest-boots-2.png

 (Original, hi-rez picture source here — look for yourself)

I made this image when I started to notice something as I was looking over the super-hi rez version of the same image.  If it didn’t take me long to figure this out, no journalist worth his or her salt should have missed it.

Take a look at the way the seam of the leather at the back of everyone’s boots falls in a straight line from the ankle towards the heel.  It doesn’t taper outwards away from or in towards the achilles tendon.  Nor does it curve in any way around the heel and converge towards the achilles tendon.  Rather it runs straight and perpendicular to the sole of the boot.  Notice anything similar between everyone’s boots?

If it wasn’t just one of the officers, then all of the evidence above is not merely circumstantial.  If all of the evidence of police interference in this protest is not circumstantial, then from this everything else, including the media’s complicity in this story, follows.


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